Rural Dentistry: Availability, Practice, and Access

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project completed:
April 2003
The population of the U.S. is experiencing a silent epidemic of dental disease that has disproportionately affected the oral health of poor, isolated and otherwise disadvantaged populations. Rural children in particular are victims of this epidemic. Against this background of rural disadvantage in dental disease prevalence is a shortage of dental providers in rural areas. This study uses secondary data sources such as the Area Resource File, American Dental Association data, and state-level professional licensure data to describe the supply of dental providers in several states, with particular attention to the supply of providers in rural areas. Results of a survey administered to rural dentists in California, Maine, Missouri, and Alabama, will be used to describe the rural dental provider population in those states. The survey addresses issues of demography, practice characteristics, practice satisfaction, use of dental hygienists, Medicaid and CHIP practices, and attitudes toward the use of alternative sources of dental care, such as using medical providers to apply sealants in the pediatric population. The study will elucidate, from the dental provider perspective, the barriers to access to dental care for rural residents and what can be done to promote rural dental practice.


  • Rural Dental Practice: A Tale of Four States (Full Report)
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 03/2006
    This paper reports the findings of a study investigating rural dentist issues, such as demography, training, practice characteristics, staff, and job satisfaction, in Alabama, California, Maine, and Missouri.
  • Rural Dental Practice: A Tale of Four States (Project Summary)
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 03/2006
    This project summary provides an overview of survey results of rural dentists in Alabama, California, Maine, and Missouri. It provides charts and statistics on dentist demographics, dental hygienist and dental assistant vacancy rates, and dentist participation in Medicaid.